Taragarh Fort In Bundi : Visit Rajasthan’s Enchanting Must-See Palace

Created by Colleen Sims * 17 January 2024

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We sat having dinner mesmerised by Taragarh Fort.  At breakfast it was teasing us; come visit it was calling. 

We hadn’t heard of Bundi or its Fort and it was never on our itinerary but so many travellers mentioned the city that we changed plans.

Sitting in our hotel restaurant on that first evening, watching the sun dip and the sky turn from blue to apricot to inky black, we knew that we’d made the right decision.

view of Taragarh Fort in Bundi at night taken from the restaurant of our hotel
Amazing View of Taragarh Fort in Bundi from our Hotel

Where is Bundi?

Bundi is located in the Hadoti region of Rajasthan state in northwest India.

  • Jaipur to Bundi : 215 kilometres and by car it is around 4-5 hours
  • Ranthambore to Bundi: 149 kilometres and by car roughly 3 hours
  • Udaipur to Bundi: 270 kilometres and by car approximately 5 hours (although we stopped at Chittogarh Fort en route to Udaipur)

How To Get To Bundi

Bundi is easily accessible from other popular destinations in Rajasthan. There are numerous bus services each day to the city from most major tourist destinations.

Top Tip : Take a look at 12Go to check for transport options; we’ve used this website across Asia and been very happy with the service.

There are no direct trains to Bundi. The nearest station is Kota which is 31 kilometres away. Once in Kota there are buses or taxis for onward travel to Bundi.

We found that Uber didn’t work in Bundi but there are plenty of Tuk-Tuks to move you around the narrow city streets. However, Bundi is a very walkable city and walking was often faster.

We travelled to Bundi from Sawai Madhopur (Ranthambore) via private transfer. There are options for transfers in Viator, TripAdvisor and 12Go but also ask your hotel as they can often be cheaper and with their trusted drivers.

Why Is Bundi Famous?

Bundi is ancient. Stone Age tools as old as 200,000 years have been found in the region but the city wasn’t officially settled until the 12 June 1242.  

Bundi is famous for its stepwells as well as its Fort. Apparently there were once over 100 and today 50 are said to remain; with 8 larger stepwells that you can visit.  Since visiting Chandi Baori we feel that other stepwells pale into comparison and it was the Taragarh Fort and Palace that we were drawn to.

Bundi is also famous for its once resident Rudyard Kipling.

looking down at the view of the Garh Palace and the Palace Lake in Bundi from Taragarh Fort

How To Visit Taragarh Fort : Times And Entry Tickets

Taragarh Fort is open daily between 9am and 6pm.

Top Tip : Ask about closing time as a French lady was locked in when we were there and only managed to get help by shouting down to residents below. The website says 6pm but it said 5:30pm on the wall outside.

It’s easy to find the fort as it is so visible. Keep walking up towards the Fort along the main road.  If you prefer to follow a map the address is : Garh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, 323001

For more information on the Palace history and to confirm up to date opening hours, do take a look at the Bundi Palace Website.

The entrance fee is INR 600 for foreign visitors and INR 100 for Indians.  There was no camara fee when we visited. 

We spent 3 hours in the Palace and Fort, we could have spent longer within the Fort but the monkeys put us off exploring further. 

Rajasthan sign at the entrance to Taragarh Fort in Bundi

About Taragarh Fort in Bundi : The Oldest Fort in Rajasthan

Towering over Bundi, amidst the Aravalli hills, is Taragarh Fort (not to be confused with the Taragarh Fort in Amjar). The fort whispers tales of battles and intrigue, of secret tunnels and even a brush with a literary legend.

While some believe the fort dates back to 1113 AD, most scholars feel that Rao Deva Hada started construction in 1354 AD.  Regardless, Taragarh Fort holds the distinction of being the oldest fort in Rajasthan.

Built atop a 500-metre hill, the fort was an impregnable bastion and considered by some to be one of the most beautiful forts in India, although we felt the Amer Fort in Jaipur would be at least equal in that title.

This formidable fort witnessed numerous battles, switching hands between Rajputs, Mughals and finally the British.  And unlike typical sandstone forts in Rajastan, Taragarh was built with green serpentine stone, making it incredibly durable and granting it a greenish hue.

Today the fort is seriously neglected and overgrown and the area colonised by a monkey population which makes it hard to walk the entire distance along the walls.

Top Tip : There are two Taragarh Forts. One in Amjar (called Star Fort) and this Taragarh Fort in Bundi. I’ve notices several blogs incorrectly confuse the two, so just be aware of the differences and move on from blogs who confuse them as they won’t have visited this one!

About Garh Palace : The Awe-Inspiring Home Of Ancient Kings

When looking up at Taragarh Fort, you’re probably looking at Garh Palace.  Inside the royal palace you’ll find elaborately decorated paintings that depict daily life in the court of Bundi, beautiful marble terraces and mirrored quarters fit for queens.

Remarkably, the palace is still privately owned by Maharao Raja Vanshvardhan Singh Ji.  We read that his ownership is in dispute with his sister, but neither sibling lives full time in the palace and in part it is sadly neglected.   However, don’t let this deter you from a visit because the palace is still majestic.

Garh Palace holds several secrets within its walls, including hidden tunnels, believed to connect the fort and the palace and other areas in the town. Underground passages were used as escape routes during times of war and there are whispers that they were also used for intrigue and late night rendez-vous.

The palace is not one building but many, with successive rulers adding new areas to increase the size and splendour of their home.

As well as public rooms and gardens there are secluded spaces, a hareem if you like, which housed the many wives.  These spaces were surrounded with high walls and no male visitors were allowed to visit.

Colleen exploring a marble hall in Garh Palace and Taragarh Fort in Bundi

Rudyard Kipling And His Links With Bundi

Rudyard Kipling was born in British India and during his travels for work he stayed in Bundi; he also had a summer residence in the British colonial city of Shimla.

He made many references to Bundi from his temporary home above the city.  Locals say that he penned the Jungle Book here, but it is more likely that he was inspired to write Kim, along with his short story The Taking of Lungtungpen, inspired but the Bundi siege of 1574.

Regardless of the confusion one thing is sure, that Kipling wrote :

Jeypore Palace may be called the Versailles of India…. Jodhpur’s House of Strife, gray towers on red rock, is the work of giants, but the Palace of Bundi, even in broad daylight, is such a palace as men built for themselves in uneasy dreams….the work of goblins rather than of men.

Bizarrely, on a sign outside the Palace, instead of the word Goblins the board says Cobbling, which caused us much confusion and made no sense until we googled the quote.

You can read more of Kipling’s thoughts on Bundi in his Letters of Marque on the Kipling Society website.

sign mis-quoting Kipling outside the Taragarh Fort
Kipling misquoted : the sign says the work of cobbling rather than goblins

What To Expect When Visiting Taragarh Fort and Palace

I’m not sure what we expected.  We have visited a lot of forts during our travels in India and it’s fair to say that many are neglected, so I think we expected the worst. 

Instead, we discovered a beautiful slice of Rajasthan history and at times we had the entire palace complex to ourselves; which felt very decadent indeed.

We were also very lucky in that a guard allowed us to access areas that I think under normal circumstances, would not be permitted.  Perhaps because it was just us and a very lovely Australian couple, he gave us access to areas we weren’t expecting to see, which was a gift.

When exploring the palace there are some notable features :

Hathiapol

The entrance or Hathi Pol is marked by two enormous wooden doors topped with two equally huge elephants.  The archway is painted as is the style and the enormous doors adorned with spikes;  which we learned were to deter charging armies and elephants.

Ratan Daulat

Inside the entrance you enter the royal stables and above, accessed by narrow stairs you’ll find the Diwan-E-Aam complete with a beautiful white marble throne looking down at the courtyard and entrance below.

Chattar Mahal

Following the arrows, you enter another pillared courtyard with state rooms leading off.  From the courtyard walls, you’re afforded wonderful views of the city and palace lake below.

The guard explained that the area immediately below was used for elephant fighting.  A practice that we learned in Udaipur, was only stopped in the 1950s.

Phool Mahal And Badal Mahal

Onwards, following the direction of the tour, it was here that we seemed to receive a little special treatment; at least it felt that way.

We were directed to the private quarters of the king and queens, invited to marvel at the painted walls and ceilings and ornate mirrored rooms.

Bundi is famous for its miniature art and even today there are many schools in the town.  Being able to see these century old paintings was a joy and a privilege.

Jhoola Chowk

Onwards we walked into a private walled area, which is now open to visitors.  Here, the guard, now acting as our private guide, showed us secret tunnels and told us how the queens spent their days, occupied in part by an enormous swing.

Chitrashala

Finally, we explored the beautiful courtyard gardens which were a later addition in the 18th century. 

These gardens remind us so much of Andalucian or Moorish gardens and the Jardin Secret in Marrakech.  We are so tempted to one day try and recreate this kind of garden; albeit on a smaller scale.

Is It Worth Visiting Bundi Palace And Fort?

We were totally captivated by this palace.  It wasn’t at all what we were expecting.  It helped that there were so few visitors and that we could meander at leisure.  It helped that the weather was perfect for exploring too. And it helped that this palace is simply fabulous.

The Fort, whilst impressive was less of an attraction for us.  The ever-present monkeys were a distraction but you can nonetheless walk beside the fortress walls and discover the long since abandoned buildings. And there are amazing views of Bundi and the palace from Taragarh Fort.

Both fort and palace are absolutely worth a visit, as is Bundi.  We are so pleased that we included this ancient little city in our itinerary.

Before making your visit to the Fort and Palace we suggest :

  • Wear comfortable shoes for the climb.
  • Take water and sunscreen, especially during summer.
  • You don’t need a guide but if you would like to have some historical input then search before you visit or ask at your hotel.  There are guides around the entrance of the fort but I’m not sure they were official.
  • Do respect the Fort’s historical significance and only enter areas if permission is given by the guards.  Some areas are clearly off limits for safety reasons but also because parts of the fort are still used as a residence.

If you are exploring Rajasthan then do make time to visit Bundi.  It was a very special visit and we are so grateful for the many recommendations that we received.

beautiful art on the walls within Garh Palace

Looking For The Perfect Place To Stay In Bundi?

We absolutely loved our stay at the Nev Diwas Hotel in Bundi. Tucked away off one of the side streets, this little hidden gem was reminiscent of a Moorish Riad.

We loved our breakfast and dinner on the terrace, the staff were super helpful, the showers were hot and the bed comfortable.  We never used the pool but I imagine in summer it’s a blessing.

We loved the nev diwas hotel in bundi
pool at the Nev Diwas Hotel in Bundi
  • Very comfortable hotel at a great price
  • within walking distance of Taragarh Fort and Palace
  • Restaurant views of the fort

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Whenever you travel overseas it’s imperative to travel with a good travel and medical insurance policy.  None of us expect anything bad to happen, but in the event of an incident, you want to be sure that your insurance will be there for you.

I’ve had the mis-fortune to end up in hospital in Peru, Indonesia, Portugal and Ireland; every time my insurance took care of everything. I would never leave home without full and comprehensive insurance.

Globelink : We have used and recommended Globelink for years and we’ve not heard of any issues. They are a great choice for European and UK Residents.

TrueTraveller : We have this policy now for an extended global trip and we are very happy with the cover, especially considering our ages and pre-existing conditions

Safety Wing : Many of my travelling buddies from the USA have recommended this company to me, although we’ve not used them personally.

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